Bill Snead, an award-winning news photographer from Kansas whose career included covering wars and national political conventions, has died. He was 78.
Snead died Sunday at his Lawrence home after struggling several months with advanced lung cancer, according to his wife, Dona Snead.
Snead spent 21 years with the Washington Post, including time as a staff photographer and assistant managing editor for graphics, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
He also served as a picture editor for National Geographic, bureau manager for United Press International in Ho Chi Minh City during the Vietnam War and director of photography for the Wilmington (Delaware) News-Journal.
In 1993, Snead returned to the Lawrence newspaper, where he started working during high school, to become its deputy editor and left the paper in 2007 as a senior editor.
“Bill Snead was a unique individual, usually with a twinkle in his eye and quick with an interesting story,” said Dolph C. Simons Jr., editor of the Journal-World and chairman of the World Company.
“He was recognized as a world-class photographer, one of the best, and an excellent writer. He was a visionary thinker and doer, fearless in many respects, and a hard worker always seeking better performance by himself and his associates.”
Snead planned to take a vacation in Europe 1991 but was sidetracked when battles broke out in the Balkans, according to Gary Settle, a news photographer and friend of Snead.
So, Snead called his boss and friend, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, to tell him he was going to the Balkans and to look for him to send back photos.
“Working his way through Albania, Yugoslavia, Romania, Iraq and Turkey, he covered events as a million Kurdish refugees were driving out of Iraq into Turkey, found ways to process his film, made prints and got them transmitted back to The Washington Post,” Settle told the newspaper in a recent email.
“Over three hectic weeks, The Post published 33 of Bill Snead’s photographs from the crisis. Many were the first and only of their kind.”
The following year, Snead won the newspaper photographer of the year award from the White House News Photographers Association. He also was a runner-up that year for a Pulitzer Prize for news photography.
Besides Dona Snead, other survivors include a son, Mark Snead, and his spouse, Liz, and their two children; and a daughter, Sally Snead. Funeral services are pending.